Fracture formation and evolution in crystalline rocks: Insights from attribute analysis
Published:January 01, 2003
K. J. W. McCaffrey, J. M. Sleight, S. Pugliese, R. E. Holdsworth, 2003. "Fracture formation and evolution in crystalline rocks: Insights from attribute analysis", Hydrocarbons in Crystalline Rocks, N. Petford, K. J. W. McCaffrey
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Fractures are ubiquitous in crystalline rocks and control the strength and geophysical and fluid transport characteristics of the Earth's upper crust. A quantitative description of fracture attributes may constrain models of fracture formation and evolution. In this study, fracture attributes collected from one-dimensional samples across exposures of typical crystalline rocks show comparable variability in fracture size and spacing to sedimentary rocks. Vein thickness and fracture aperture data show predominately power-law distributions. Vein and fracture spacing data are best described by exponential distributions with negative slopes and appear to vary with composition in intrusive rocks. The fracture systems exhibit a range of anti-clustered to clustered patterns, and densities are an order of magnitude higher for joints compared to veins. Fracture clustering data can be used in conjunction with the spatial distributions to provide information on the controlling processes of fracture spacing. We suggest that exponential spacing distribution is produced as a sampling effect for both periodic-spaced and clustered fracture sets. In the examples given here, thermal stress-related joint patterns are distinguishable from tectonic-related fractures in plutonic rocks and fracture density and clustering is increased towards a major reactivated basement fault.
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Hydrocarbons in Crystalline Rocks
‘Commercial oil deposits in basement rocks are not geological “accidents” but are oil accumulations which obey all the rules of oil sourcing, migration and entrapment; therefore in areas of not too deep basement, oil deposits within basement rocks should be explored with the same professional skill and zeal as ccumulations in the overlying sediments’, Landes et al. (1960), AAPG Bulletin.
Given that most OPEC countries are currently at or within 5% Production capacity, there is a growing need to look for ‘new oil’ and other hydrocarbons in non-traditional sources.
While oil and gas fields in crystalline basement are still discovered mostly by accident, as shown in this book, such reservoirs can be very prolific, especially if the basement rock is highly faulted or fractured. The chapters in this volume cover a diverse range of topics related broadly to the theme of hydrocarbons in crystalline rocks, and challenge explorationists’ definition of basement rock, which needs to be less narrow and more responsive to new geological ideas.